Middle East

With a defiant right-wing turn promising that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he remained in power, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has managed to overturn unfavourable opinion polls at the last minute and emerge as the winner of the Israeli elections on Tuesday. His appeal was aimed - and successfully so - at rallying the right wing around his figure and "firm" leadership by appealing once again to the historically deeply rooted fears of ordinary Israeli citizens over external threats to Israel. What are going to be the consequences of his victory within Israel and internationally?

Hossein Shariatmadari, the powerful editor of the Iranian right-wing daily Keyhan, was disrupted time and time again as he tried to speak at Tehran University on 13 December. The hundreds of students gathered in the call would interrupt him with slogans such as "Leave, interrogator!", "Keyhan, Israel congratulations on your unity", "Death to reaction" "Shame on you, liar, leave the university". This open defiance of the students clearly shook Shariatmadari, who as a close confidant of Ayatollah Khamenei is one of the most reactionary voices of the regime.

We publish the latest edition of the Farsi journal of the IMT - Mobareze Tabaghati. In this edition you will find articles about the underlying tensions which are accumulating in Iran. We also take a look at the situation of the working class and its latest movments. There are also articles on Kobane as well as the 150th anniversary of the First International.

As we get closer to the deadline for a deal on the nuclear negotiations, the question of “what now” is being asked by more and more people in Iran. The Rouhani government has bought itself time by turning the focus of the masses outwards to the nuclear negotiations, but sooner or later he will have to face the internal situation.

The forces of ISIS are closing in on the besieged town of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border. Thousands of terrified Kurds have fled to Turkey in a desperate attempt to bring supplies and reinforcements, but find themselves blocked by the Turkish army, which is preventing reinforcements, arms and supplies from crossing the frontier. While the rest of the world looks on, the people of Kobane are threatened with an unspeakable bloodbath.

The struggle of the Kurdish forces of the YPG and YPJ that have been defending the town of Kobane against the onslaught of ISIS forces that outnumber and outgun them, has been nothing short of heroic. The fight for Kobane has been raging for more than three weeks and has intensified in the last few days as the Kurdish forces had to withdraw back into the centre of Kobane from their defensive positions outside the town. Reports are now coming in of intense urban fighting as the YPG and YPJ are resisting the advances of ISIS street by street.

In a press conference on 28th August, US president Barack Obama openly admitted that he did not have a strategy yet to combat the jihadist ISIS group in Iraq and Syria. Obama’s confession reveals the impasse the US are facing with the new, explosive crisis provoked in the Middle East by the advance of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In clinical Psychology, déjà vu is defined as “the experience of perceiving a new situation as if it had occurred before. It is sometimes associated with exhaustion or certain types of mental disorder”.

In the Presidential elections held at the beginning of June, Assad was declared the winner with 88.7% of the vote. That is not surprising considering the nature of the regime. However, in spite of the fact that these were in no way “free” elections, and that many people could not vote as they were in refugee camps beyond the borders of the country, what emerged was that a significant section of the population is backing Assad. Why is this?

Yesterday, the Israeli army embarked on a ground offensive into Gaza. Journalists on the ground have described the initial stages of the land invasion, recounting scenes of terror as Gaza is pounded by tank, cannons, airstrikes and missiles fired from Israeli warships off the coast. Israeli forces are bombing Gaza from the air, sea, and land.

A storm of bombs and fire grotesquely denominated “Operation Protective Edge” has been unleashed by the Israeli government on the civilian population of Gaza. Over the last days more than 400 tonnes of high potential bombs have hit targets within the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing at least 100 civilians, including many children, and injuring hundreds.

The speed with which large swathes of Iraqi territory have fallen to a relatively small force of armed militias begs the question as to how this was possible. The Iraqi armed forces were numerically much superior to the groups who took over towns such as Mosul in the north. The army actually melted away. This cannot be explained simply by referring to armed Islamic groups. Something deeper is going on.

On Tuesday, the Islamisc fundamentalist group ISIS captured Mosul, one of the key cities in Northern Iraq and then proceeded South towards Baghdad, capturing several important cities on the way. Hundreds of thousands have already fled fearing their lives under the rule of this reactionary group. This spectre of barbarism rising on the horizon, is the direct result of the cynical adventures of American imperialism.

The whole of the Egyptian establishment, from statesmen, to businessmen and TV presenters, are falling over each other as they praise the ‘landslide victory’ of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the Egyptian presidential elections. However the stability that the bourgeois are craving for is further away than they think.

The class struggle is once more heating up in Egypt. Al-Sisi’s “popular” image is starting to fade as five union leaders are arrested after 50,000 post office workers came out on strike.

The die is cast. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the commander-in-chief of the army and Egypt's Minister of Defence, has resigned from his ministerial post and announced yesterday that he will be standing as a candidate in the presidential elections which he is likely to win.

On the occasion of the death of Ariel Sharon we here republish an article we first published in 2006.

As once more the never ending “peace” talks continue between the Palestinians, the US, and Israel, third generation Palestinians still keep the keys of long demolished Palestinian homes in what is now the State of Israel. From this is it not obvious that the Palestinians will never accept any agreement that will not include their right of return to the land of their forebears.

The Egyptian Revolution has captured the attention of the masses all over the world. In Indonesia, activists are energetically discussing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the revolution, the intervention of the military, the nature of the revolution, and the future prospect of the revolution. Below, in a reply to Muhammad Ridha, an activist from the Working People’s Party (Partai Rakyat Pekerja, PRP) in Indonesia, Ted Sprague outlines the dialectical process of the Egyptian revolution.

The spontaneous uprising of the Syrian masses, inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, has degenerated into a sectarian bloodbath. Deprived of a revolutionary leadership, the hopeful beginnings have been transformed into a tragedy. On the other hand, US imperialism's hypocritical and bellicose zig-zags are a complete and utter farce, and graphically illustrate the limits of US power.

The war drums in Washington are beating their macabre tune out loud, announcing an imminent US attack on Syria. In the UK, the faithful squire, Cameron, is willingly echoing the call. Parliament is expected to back the military option in an emergency meeting convened for Thursday, August 29th. Direct imperialist intervention marks a fundamental change in the situation in Syria after the spiralling sectarian civil war had wiped away the revolutionary potential of the anti-regime protests sparked in January 2011 by the events of the Arab spring.

The Egyptian security forces have bloodily crushed and dismantled the protest camps of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters, set up in Al-Nahda Square and Raba'a al-Adawiyya in Cairo as focal points to regroup and mobilise their forces after the overthrow of Morsi. This marks yet another dramatic change in the situation facing the Egyptian revolution.

The overthrow of Muhammad Morsi has opened up a new and turbulent period in the Egyptian Revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) still has a base in Egyptian society, among the petty bourgeoisie, the most backward and ignorant layers of the peasantry and the lumpenproletariat. It is determined to cling to power, but the multimillion masses that took to the streets to overthrow them are equally determined that they shall not return. The future of the Egyptian Revolution will be determined by the outcome of this struggle.

Morsi has fallen. The magnificent movement of the masses has once more shown to the entire world the authentic face of the Egyptian people. It shows that the Revolution, which many even on the Left believed to have stalled, still possesses immense social reserves.

After four days of mass revolutionary mobilisations by the Egyptian people and the beginning of a nationwide general strike, finally president Morsi was removed from power. What we witnessed yesterday is yet another example of the power of the masses of workers and youth, peasants and the poor when they start to move.

As we write these lines hundreds of thousands of protesters are already on the move in Egypt with one clear goal in their minds: to remove Morsi from office. The Tamarod movement which organised the huge rallies on Sunday June 30 has called for the Ittihadiya and Qubba presidential palaces and the regional governorates to be surrounded by the people by 5 pm and announced that they will issue a statement from the Qubba palace at 7.30 pm. This is the language of insurrection.

Yet again the people of Egypt have risen against dictatorship, poverty and corruption. Yesterday, June 30, millions of people flooded the streets in all sizeable towns and cities stretching from the rural areas of Upper Egypt through the industrial heartland of the Nile Delta and all the way to the areas in the north. Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, once praised by the West as saviours of Egyptian capitalism, have been completely disarmed by the revolution. His destiny is now in the hands of the movement which has every opportunity to sweep him aside.

Two days of clashes and street barricades followed the brutal police effort to clear Taksim Square and Gezi park of protesters, ahead of Erdogan's show of strength with mass rallies in Ankara and Istanbul. Five different trade union and professional bodies called a one day protest strike today, June 17.

As these lines are being written hundreds of thousands of Iranians have poured onto the streets to celebrate the victory of Hassan Rouhani, in the presidential elections. Pictures of mass celebrations all over Iran are circulating the internet. This is an open defiance of Khamenei and the whole security apparatus of the regime which was dealt a humiliating defeat in the elections.

Yet again the Iranian presidential elections have taken an unforeseen turn. After excluding all his critics and most obvious competitors from the race, Khamenei had thought that he could secure a peaceful campaign period concluding with his handpicked candidate on top. But contrary to his calculations his recent actions have opened up even deeper rifts in the ruling clique. His feeble attempt at forcing unity within the regime has resulted in his faction coming out as the weakest one in the race. At the same time the campaign of Hassan Rouhani has seen a sudden surge in popularity with hundreds of thousands of discontented youth at its mass meetings and rallies.

The declaration of Obama that the USA will step up its support for the rebels in Syria represents a change in the situation. The White House announcement means that the US is to supply direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time. Spokesman Ben Rhodes did not give details about the military aid other than to say it would be “different in scope and scale to what we have provided before”.

After the Istanbul regional governor announced that there would be no attack on the protestors at Gezi Park and Taksim Square, the police marched into Taksim under the pretext of “cleaning” the square. Allegedly, they wanted to “clear” the square of barricades and forbidden flags and symbols like the PKK or Kurdistan flag and banners with Abdullah Ocalan on them.

Early this morning, when most of the protestors were asleep in their tents, riot police armed with rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas stormed Taksim Square in Istanbul. This attack is part of a co-ordinated string of measures being pursued by the Erdogan government in an attempt to crush the mass movement of Turkish people that has been developing over the past two weeks.

“Papa Tayyip”, as Erdogan’s supporters call him, returned in the early hours of Friday from his visit to the Maghreb. His hiding in Morocco had to end. His party, the AKP, had declared several times that it would not organize a welcome rally for its president, although up 10,000 supporters (according to some estimates) did gather on Thursday evening. “Chemical Tayyip”, as he is referred to by the tear gassed demonstrators, however, met not only his supporters, but also even bigger protests in the country than when he left, despite his claims that everything would end quickly, as the protestors were only “marginal elements” and “marauders”. Wrong he was indeed!

These are a series of accounts we have received from Izmir. While we do not necessarily share all of the conclusions, we think they reflect very well the mood of the movement.

The magnificent movement of the workers and youth of Turkey is an inspiration to the whole world. What began as a peaceful protest against the cutting down of trees in a park to pave the way for the construction of a shopping mall has turned into a tidal wave of mass protests against the vicious and reactionary Erdogan regime, which has acquired insurrectionary dimensions.

What started as a small scale protest against the destruction of Gezi Park that stands next to Taksim Square in Istanbul has now developed into a nationwide movement demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Erdogan, of the AK Party.

I am sure that the fund managers in the City of London or New York’s Manhattan or Frankfurt’s financial distrcit are very surprised. They may even be shocked. I am quite sure that many fund managers and bankers who have helped Erdogan's government stay in power for so many years by channelling their hot money to Istanbul’s stock market are now calling their brokers in İItanbul. 

Yesterday the Guardian Council in Iran announced the names of the eight candidates for the upcoming Presidential elections. The Council is a 12-member body of theologians and jurists, appointed by the Supreme Leader and the head of Judiciary, with responsibility for vetting presidential candidates ahead of the elections, scheduled for 14th June.

This year’s presidential race in Iran was dramatically shaken this week by the news that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had announced his candidacy. Although Rafsanjani has fallen out of favour with the regime in recent years, it is quite possible that his bid could be successful.

As the Syrian revolution remains locked in civil war for a third year, regional powers have begun to use the conflict as an opportunity to advance their own imperialist agendas. Syria has become a battleground for a proxy war between Iran, Israel, and the Arab states of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the foremost allies of the USA in the Middle East, brutally exploits its migrant workers. The visa regime keeps the workers in a state of permanent dependency on their employers and abuses are common. At the other end of the spectrum members of the royal family, including the king himself, are among the richest people in the world with billions of dollars in wealth. This contradiction has revolutionary implications.

President Obama’s recent visit to Israel and the ‘Palestinian Territories’ has proved to be another abject failure in an obscene diplomacy being flaunted by US imperialism to end the conflict in the region. The only thing this visit brought to the fore is the sheer weakness of Obama and his policy of appeasing Zionist hawks as well as the US right. During the visit he reiterated over and over again that the USA was the best ally Israel could have and Washington would continue to support Israel come what may. In short, it was a high-profile visit by yet another US president with the same old failed message. In many ways, this visit was an endorsement for the Zionist state to continue its

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